Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB Review
ASVAB stands for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and is a test developed and maintained by the United States Department of Defense. Its primary use is to pre-qualify applicants for military careers.
The ASVAB was first administered in the 1960’s and currently has eight subtests: word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, mathematics knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, general science, mechanical comprehension, electronics information and auto and shop information. More than a million people take the ASVAB each year. The test is available in both computer and paper form. It is a timed test and takes about three hours. It can be taken at an ASVAB testing site, through a military recruiter or in your high school—more than half of the high schools in the U.S. offer the test.
Why take the ASVAB?
There are three basic reasons to take the ASVAB:
* To find out if you qualify for a U.S. military branch of service.
* To find out what job you may qualify for within a particular branch of service.
* To explore what careers may interest you outside of the military.
To qualify for the military, you must take the ASVAB. After you have completed the test, you will receive a score that is referred to as the AFQT (Armed Forces Qualification Test). The AFQT is a score of 1 to 99 that is made up of four of the subtests: paragraph compression, word knowledge, math knowledge and arithmetic reasoning. Your raw scores are run through a formula to determine your AFQT score.
The military breaks these scores down into categories. The primary categories that recruiters are concerned with are: Category IIIA and above (50 to 99); IIIB (31-49), and IV and below (0 to 30).
Congress mandates how many of each category are eligible to join the military. The Department of Defense is mainly looking for Category IIIA, which means that your AFQT score is 50 or above. As a Category IIIA, you will qualify for education money and/or bonuses that may be available. Check with each branch of service for exact details. Don’t stress about trying to score a 99. Most people will qualify for any job that is open with a score below 99.
The subtest scores are used individually or in combination to find out what specific job within the branch of service you may qualify for. Remember that not all jobs in the military are combat related. You could work as an audiovisual and broadcast technician, a welder, a metal worker or a medical laboratory technician. The ASVAB is also used to help you explore careers that don’t involve the military.
What can you do to raise your score?
If you didn’t score a 50 or higher, you can take the ASVAB again. If you want to change jobs once you are in the military, you can request to take the ASVAB again. You don’t have to base your future on your current knowledge level. The ASVAB is a test of what you know, not how smart you are. There are many ASVAB review and study guides online and in books. Make sure the ASVAB study guide that you choose focuses on the AFQT specifically.
Discuss your other ASVAB questions with your school counselor or military recruiter. Taking the ASVAB can help guide you into a satisfying career. The military offers many choices and can open up future job opportunities. Taking the ASVAB can only help guide your future.
Nina S. Padolf is owner of www.ASVAB.org.